Much like a successful “March Madness” basketball team, a successful legislative strategy needs to combine an efficient offense with a lock-down defense.
Legislative Committees in Minnesota must act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills covering the next biennium (fiscal years 2024 and 2025) by next Tuesday, April 4. Ahead of this deadline, we have been actively working to advance key funding priorities to assist ethanol producers in Minnesota.
- Biofuel Infrastructure. Legislation has been introduced in both chambers (SF 1246 – Kupec; HF 1474 – Frederick) to provide grant funding for upgrading or replacing infrastructure at fuel retail locations to offer higher biofuel blends. We testified in support of both bills and, this week, both committees included biofuel infrastructure funding in their respective omnibus finance bills. The Senate bill matches Governor Walz’s budget proposal at $9 million ($4.5 million per year), while the House proposes $6 million ($3 million per year).
- Bioincentive payments. Legislation to provide funding to reimburse biofuel producers for the commercial-scale production of advanced biofuels has been introduced in both chambers (SF 1178 – Hauschild; HF 1477 – Tabke). We provided supportive testimony and when the House and Senate Agriculture committees released their omnibus bills this week they included strong Bioincentive funding. The Senate bill provides $12 million ($6 million per year), while the House provides $13.5 million ($6.75 million per year), of which $1 million per year is set-aside to backfill claims from previous fiscal years.
Many bills have been introduced this session that would subject ethanol production plants to duplicative or unnecessary administrative and environmental reporting, monitoring, and testing requirements.
- Biofuel Monitoring & Testing for PFAS and Treated Seeds. Legislation has been introduced (HF 2761 – Hansen) and included in the House Environment committee’s omnibus bill to require biofuel facilities to monitor and test for neonicotinoids and PFAS. We testified against the bill because no ethanol plant in the state of Minnesota uses treated seed as a feedstock. If they proposed to do so, they would need a new permit from MPCA.
- Disclosure of Sensitive Business Information. Legislation has been introduced (HF 475 – Hansen) and included in the House Agriculture committee’s omnibus bill to require Bioincentive program participants to disclose sensitive business information in order to qualify. No other program administered by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture requires such disclosure, and changing program requirements midstream would undermine the goal of attracting investment in advanced biofuels with carbon reductions 70 percent lower than petroleum.
Neither of the above bills have been included in Senate omnibus bills and MN Bio-Fuels will be working to keep them out of any final conference committee agreement while working in the long-term to educate members of the DFL majority about the ethanol production and permitting process.
MN Bio-Fuels will continue to advocate on behalf of Minnesota’s ethanol industry and ensure that a balanced offensive and defensive strategy leads to legislative success.